Curated Optogenetic Publication Database

Search precisely and efficiently by using the advantage of the hand-assigned publication tags that allow you to search for papers involving a specific trait, e.g. a particular optogenetic switch or a host organism.

Showing 1 - 25 of 173 results

Automatic detection of spatio-temporal signalling patterns in cell collectives.

blue CRY2/CIB1 MCF10A Signaling cascade control
bioRxiv, 12 Jul 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.07.12.499734 Link to full text
Abstract: An increasing experimental evidence points to physiological importance of space-time correlations in signalling of cell collectives. From wound healing to epithelial homeostasis to morphogenesis, coordinated activation of bio-molecules between cells allows the collectives to perform more complex tasks and better tackle environmental challenges. To understand this information exchange and to advance new theories of emergent phenomena, we created ARCOS, a computational method to detect and quantify collective signalling. We demonstrate ARCOS on cell and organism collectives with space-time correlations on different scales in 2D and 3D. We make a new observation that oncogenic mutations in the MAPK/ERK and PIK3CA/Akt pathways of MCF10A epithelial cells induce ERK activity waves with different size, duration, and frequency. The open-source implementations of ARCOS are available as R and Python packages, and as a plugin for napari image viewer to interactively quantify collective phenomena without prior programming experience.

Soluble cyclase-mediated nuclear cAMP synthesis is sufficient for cell proliferation.

blue bPAC (BlaC) PCCL3 Signaling cascade control Immediate control of second messengers
bioRxiv, 19 May 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.05.18.492464 Link to full text
Abstract: cAMP is a key player in many physiological processes. Classically considered to originate solely from the plasma membrane, this view was recently challenged by observations showing that GPCRs can sustain cAMP signaling from intracellular compartments associated with nuclear PKA translocation and activation of transcriptional events. In this report we show that neither PKA translocation nor cAMP diffusion, but rather nuclear sAC activation represents the only source of nuclear cAMP accumulation, PKA activation, and CREB phosphorylation. Both pharmacological and genetic sAC inhibition, that did not affect the cytosolic cAMP levels, completed blunted nuclear cAMP accumulation, PKA activation and proliferation, while an increase in sAC nuclear expression significantly enhanced cell proliferation. Moreover, utilizing novel compartment-specific optogenetic actuators we showed that light-dependent nuclear cAMP synthesis can stimulate PKA, CREB and trigger cell proliferation. Thus, our results show that sAC-mediated nuclear accumulation is not only necessary but sufficient and rate-limiting for cAMP-dependent proliferation.

Morphogen Directed Coordination of GPCR Activity Promotes Primary Cilium Function for Downstream Signaling.

blue bPAC (BlaC) mIMCD-3 Signaling cascade control Immediate control of second messengers
bioRxiv, 6 May 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.05.06.490951 Link to full text
Abstract: Primary cilium dysfunction triggers catastrophic failure of signal transduction pathways that organize through cilia, thus conferring significant pressure on such signals to ensure ciliary homeostasis. Intraflagellar transport (IFT) of cargo that maintains the primary cilium is powered by high ciliary cAMP. Paradoxically, Sonic Hedgehog (SHH) signaling, for which ciliary function is crucial, triggers a reduction in ciliary cAMP that could blunt downstream signaling by slowing IFT. We investigated this paradox and mapped a novel signal relay driven by SHH-stimulated prostaglandin E2 that stabilizes ciliary cAMP flux through by activating Gαs-coupled EP4 receptor. Chemical or genetic blockade of the SHH-EP4 relay cripples cAMP buffering, which leads to decreased intraciliary cAMP, short cilia, and attenuated SHH pathway induction. Accordingly, EP4-/- mice show pronounced ciliary defects and altered SHH-dependent neural tube patterning. Thus, SHH orchestrates a sophisticated ciliary GPCR-cAMP signaling network that ensures primary cilium fitness for a robust downstream signaling response.

mTORC2 coordinates the leading and trailing edge cytoskeletal programs during neutrophil migration.

blue iLID HL-60 Signaling cascade control
bioRxiv, 27 Mar 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.03.25.484773 Link to full text
Abstract: By acting both upstream and downstream of biochemical organizers of the cytoskeleton, physical forces function as central integrators of cell shape and movement. Here we use a combination of genetic, pharmacological, and optogenetic perturbations to probe the role of the conserved mechanoresponsive mTORC2 program in neutrophil polarity and motility. We find that the tension-based inhibition of leading edge signals (Rac, F-actin) that underlies protrusion competition is gated by the kinase-independent role of the complex, whereas the mTORC2 kinase arm is essential for regulation of Rho activity and Myosin II-based contraction at the trailing edge. Cells required mTORC2 for spatial and temporal coordination between the front and back polarity programs and persistent migration under confinement. mTORC2 is in a mechanosensory cascade, but membrane stretch did not suffice to stimulate mTORC2 unless the co-input PIP3 was also present. Our work suggests that different signalling arms of mTORC2 regulate spatially and molecularly divergent cytoskeletal programs allowing efficient coordination of neutrophil shape and movement.

Optogenetic control of the Bicoid morphogen reveals fast and slow modes of gap gene regulation.

blue AsLOV2 D. melanogaster in vivo Signaling cascade control
Cell Rep, 22 Mar 2022 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2022.110543 Link to full text
Abstract: Developmental patterning networks are regulated by multiple inputs and feedback connections that rapidly reshape gene expression, limiting the information that can be gained solely from slow genetic perturbations. Here we show that fast optogenetic stimuli, real-time transcriptional reporters, and a simplified genetic background can be combined to reveal the kinetics of gene expression downstream of a developmental transcription factor in vivo. We engineer light-controlled versions of the Bicoid transcription factor and study their effects on downstream gap genes in embryos. Our results recapitulate known relationships, including rapid Bicoid-dependent transcription of giant and hunchback and delayed repression of Krüppel. In addition, we find that the posterior pattern of knirps exhibits a quick but inverted response to Bicoid perturbation, suggesting a noncanonical role for Bicoid in directly suppressing knirps transcription. Acute modulation of transcription factor concentration while recording output gene activity represents a powerful approach for studying developmental gene networks in vivo.

Optogenetic actuator/ERK biosensor circuits identify MAPK network nodes that shape ERK dynamics.

blue CRY2/CRY2 iLID NIH/3T3 Signaling cascade control
bioRxiv, 21 Mar 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2021.07.27.453955 Link to full text
Abstract: Combining single-cell measurements of ERK activity dynamics with perturbations provides insights into the MAPK network topology. We built circuits consisting of an optogenetic actuator to activate MAPK signaling and an ERK biosensor to measure single-cell ERK dynamics. This allowed us to conduct RNAi screens to investigate the role of 50 MAPK proteins in ERK dynamics. We found that the MAPK network is robust against most node perturbations. We observed that the ERK-RAF and the ERK-RSK2-SOS negative feedbacks operate simultaneously to regulate ERK dynamics. Bypassing the RSK2-mediated feedback, either by direct optogenetic activation of RAS, or by RSK2 perturbation, sensitized ERK dynamics to further perturbations. Similarly, targeting this feedback in a human ErbB2-dependent oncogenic signaling model increased the efficiency of a MEK inhibitor. The RSK2-mediated feedback is thus important for the ability of the MAPK network to produce consistent ERK outputs and its perturbation can enhance the efficiency of MAPK inhibitors.

Regulation of EGF-stimulated activation of the PI-3K/AKT pathway by exocyst-mediated exocytosis.

blue CRY2/CIB1 HeLa Signaling cascade control
bioRxiv, 21 Mar 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.03.21.485168 Link to full text
Abstract: The phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI-3K)/AKT cell survival pathway is an important pathway activated by EGFR signaling. Here we show, that in addition to previously described critical components of this pathway, i.e., the docking protein Gab1, the PI-3K/AKT pathway in epithelial cells is regulated by the exocyst complex, which is a vesicle tether that is essential for exocytosis. Using live-cell imaging, we demonstrate that PI(3,4,5)P3 levels fluctuate at the membrane on a minutes time scale and that these fluctuations are associated with local PI(3,4,5)P3 increases at sites where recycling vesicles undergo exocytic fusion. Supporting a role for exocytosis in PI(3,4,5)P3 generation, acute promotion of exocytosis by optogenetically driving exocyst-mediated vesicle tethering upregulates PI(3,4,5)P3 production and AKT activation. Conversely, acute inhibition of exocytosis using Endosidin2, a small-molecule inhibitor of the exocyst subunit Exo70, impairs PI(3,4,5)P3 production and AKT activation induced by EGF stimulation of epithelial cells. Moreover, prolonged inhibition of EGF signaling by EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors results in spontaneous reactivation of AKT without a concomitant relief of EGFR inhibition. However, this reactivation can be negated by acutely inhibiting the exocyst. These experiments demonstrate that exocyst-mediated exocytosis – by regulating PI(3,4,5)P3 levels at the plasma membrane – subserves activation of the PI-3K/AKT pathway by EGFR in epithelial cells.

The rate of information transmission through the MAPK/ERK signaling pathway stimulated in a pulsatile manner.

blue CRY2/CRY2 MCF10A Signaling cascade control
bioRxiv, 19 Mar 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.03.17.484713 Link to full text
Abstract: Many intracellular signaling pathways, including the MAPK/ERK cascade, respond to an external stimulus in a yes-or-no manner. This has been reflected in estimates of the amount of information a single cell can transmit about the amplitude of an applied (and sustained) input signal, which turns out to only slightly exceed 1 bit. More information, however, can potentially be transmitted in response to time-varying stimulation. In this work, we find a lower bound of the MAPK/ERK signaling channel capacity. We use an epithelial cell line expressing an ERK activity reporter and an optogenetically modified fibroblast growth factor receptor, which allows triggering eventual ERK activity by short light pulses. We observe that it is possible to reconstruct the stimulatory input pattern with five-minute delay and one-minute resolution. By stimulating the cells with random pulse trains we demonstrate that the information transmission rate through the MAPK/ERK pathway can exceed 6 bits per hour. Such high information transmission rate allows the MAPK/ERK pathway to coordinate multiple processes including cell movement.

Oncogenic protein condensates modulate cell signal perception and drug tolerance.

blue CRY2/CRY2 iLID H3122 STE-1 Signaling cascade control
bioRxiv, 4 Feb 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.02.02.478845 Link to full text
Abstract: Drug resistance remains a central challenge towards durable cancer therapy, including for cancers driven by the EML4-ALK oncogene. EML4-ALK and related fusion oncogenes form cytoplasmic protein condensates that transmit oncogenic signals through the Ras/Erk pathway. However, whether such condensates play a role in drug response or resistance development is unclear. Here, we applied optogenetic functional profiling to examine how EML4-ALK condensates impact signal transmission through transmembrane receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs), a common route of resistance signaling. We found that condensates dramatically suppress signaling through activated RTKs including EGFR. Conversely, ALK inhibition restored and hypersensitized RTK signals. Modulation of RTK sensitivity occurred because EML4-ALK condensates sequestered downstream adapters that are required to transduce signals from both EML4-ALK and ligand-stimulated RTKs. Strikingly, EGFR hypersensitization resulted in rapid and pulsatile Erk signal reactivation within 10s of minutes of drug addition. EGFR reactivation originated from paracrine signals from neighboring apoptotic cells, and reactivation could be blocked by inhibition of either EGFR or matrix metalloproteases. Paracrine signals promoted survival during ALK inhibition, and blockade of paracrine signals accelerated cell killing and suppressed drug tolerance. Our results uncover a regulatory role for protein condensates in cancer signaling and drug response and demonstrate the potential of optogenetic profiling for drug discovery based on functional biomarkers in cancer cells.

Nucleation of the destruction complex on the centrosome accelerates degradation of β-catenin and regulates Wnt signal transmission.

blue CRY2/CRY2 HEK293T hESCs Signaling cascade control
bioRxiv, 3 Feb 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.02.01.478717 Link to full text
Abstract: Wnt signal transduction is mediated by a protein assembly called the Destruction Complex (DC) made from scaffold proteins and kinases that are essential for transducing extracellular Wnt ligand concentrations to changes in nuclear β-catenin, the pathway’s transcriptional effector. Recently, DC scaffold proteins have been shown to undergo liquid-liquid phase separation in vivo and in vitro providing evidence for a mesoscale organization of the DC. However, the mesoscale organization of DC at endogenous expression levels and how that organization could play a role in β-catenin processing is unknown. Here we find that the native mesoscale structure is a dynamic biomolecular condensate nucleated by the centrosome. Through a combination of advanced microscopy, CRISPR-engineered custom fluorescent tags, finite element simulations, and optogenetic tools, that allow for independent manipulation of the biophysical parameters that drive condensate formation, we find that a function of DC nucleation by the centrosome is to drive efficient processing of β-catenin by co-localizing DC components to a single reaction hub. We demonstrate that simply increasing the concentration of a single DC kinase onto the centrosome controls β-catenin processing. This simple change in localization completely alters the fate of the Wnt-driven human embryonic stem cell differentiation to mesoderm. Our findings demonstrate the role of nucleators in dynamically controlling the activities of biomolecular condensates and suggest a tight integration between cell cycle progression and Wnt signal transduction.

A nucleation barrier spring-loads the CBM signalosome for binary activation.

blue CRY2clust VfAU1-LOV HEK293T Signaling cascade control
bioRxiv, 29 Jan 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.01.28.477912 Link to full text
Abstract: Immune cells activate in a binary, switch-like fashion that involves proteins polymerizing into large complexes known as signalosomes. The switch-like nature of signalosome formation has been proposed to result from large energy barriers to polymer nucleation. Whether such nucleation barriers indeed drive binary immune responses has not yet been shown. Here, we employed an in-cell biophysical approach to dissect the assembly mechanism of the CARD-BCL10-MALT1 (CBM) signalosome, a key determinant of transcription factor NF-κB activation in both innate and adaptive immunity. We found that the adaptor protein BCL10 encodes an intrinsic nucleation barrier, and that this barrier has been conserved from cnidaria to humans. Using optogenetic tools and a single-cell transcriptional reporter of NF-κB activity, we further revealed that endogenous human BCL10 is supersaturated even in unstimulated cells, indicating that the nucleation barrier operationally stores energy for subsequent activation. We found that upon stimulation, BCL10 nucleation by CARD9 multimers triggers self-templated polymerization that saturates NF-κB activation to produce a binary response. Pathogenic mutants of CARD9 that cause human immunodeficiencies eliminated nucleating activity. Conversely, a hyperactive cancer-causing mutation in BCL10 increased its spontaneous nucleation. Our results indicate that unassembled CBM signalosome components function analogously to a spring-loaded mousetrap, constitutively poised to activate NF-κB through irrevocable polymerization. This finding may inform our understanding of the root causes and progressive nature of pathogenic and age-associated inflammation.

Wnt Signaling Rescues Amyloid Beta-Induced Gut Stem Cell Loss.

blue CRY2/CRY2 D. melanogaster in vivo Signaling cascade control
Cells, 14 Jan 2022 DOI: 10.3390/cells11020281 Link to full text
Abstract: Patients with Alzheimer's disease suffer from a decrease in brain mass and a prevalence of amyloid-β plaques. These plaques are thought to play a role in disease progression, but their exact role is not entirely established. We developed an optogenetic model to induce amyloid-β intracellular oligomerization to model distinct disease etiologies. Here, we examine the effect of Wnt signaling on amyloid in an optogenetic, Drosophila gut stem cell model. We observe that Wnt activation rescues the detrimental effects of amyloid expression and oligomerization. We analyze the gene expression changes downstream of Wnt that contribute to this rescue and find changes in aging related genes, protein misfolding, metabolism, and inflammation. We propose that Wnt expression reduces inflammation through repression of Toll activating factors. We confirm that chronic Toll activation reduces lifespan, but a decrease in the upstream activator Persephone extends it. We propose that the protective effect observed for lithium treatment functions, at least in part, through Wnt activation and the inhibition of inflammation.

Designing Single-Component Optogenetic Membrane Recruitment Systems: The Rho-Family GTPase Signaling Toolbox.

blue BcLOV4 HEK293T Signaling cascade control
ACS Synth Biol, 3 Jan 2022 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.1c00604 Link to full text
Abstract: We describe the efficient creation of single-component optogenetic tools for membrane recruitment-based signaling perturbation using BcLOV4 technology. The workflow requires two plasmids to create six different domain arrangements of the dynamic membrane binder BcLOV4, a fluorescent reporter, and the fused signaling protein of interest. Screening of this limited set of genetic constructs for expression characteristics and dynamic translocation in response to one pulse of light is sufficient to identify viable signaling control tools. The reliability of this streamlined approach is demonstrated by the creation of an optogenetic Cdc42 GTPase and Rac1-activating Tiam1 GEF protein, which together with our other recently reported technologies, completes a toolbox for spatiotemporally precise induction of Rho-family GTPase signaling at the GEF or GTPase level, for driving filopodial protrusions, lamellipodial protrusions, and cell contractility, respectively mediated by Cdc42, Rac1, and RhoA.

Substratum stiffness regulates Erk signaling dynamics through receptor-level control.

blue CRY2/CRY2 iLID MCF10A Signaling cascade control
Cell Rep, 28 Dec 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.110181 Link to full text
Abstract: The EGFR/Erk pathway is triggered by extracellular ligand stimulation, leading to stimulus-dependent dynamics of pathway activity. Although mechanical properties of the microenvironment also affect Erk activity, their effects on Erk signaling dynamics are poorly understood. Here, we characterize how the stiffness of the underlying substratum affects Erk signaling dynamics in mammary epithelial cells. We find that soft microenvironments attenuate Erk signaling, both at steady state and in response to epidermal growth factor (EGF) stimulation. Optogenetic manipulation at multiple signaling nodes reveals that intracellular signal transmission is largely unaffected by substratum stiffness. Instead, we find that soft microenvironments decrease EGF receptor (EGFR) expression and alter the amount and spatial distribution of EGF binding at cell membranes. Our data demonstrate that the mechanical microenvironment tunes Erk signaling dynamics via receptor-ligand interactions, underscoring how multiple microenvironmental signals are jointly processed through a highly conserved pathway that regulates tissue development, homeostasis, and disease progression.

Temperature-responsive optogenetic probes of cell signaling.

blue BcLOV4 CRY2/CRY2 iLID HEK293T NIH/3T3 Schneider 2 zebrafish in vivo Signaling cascade control
Nat Chem Biol, 22 Dec 2021 DOI: 10.1038/s41589-021-00917-0 Link to full text
Abstract: We describe single-component optogenetic probes whose activation dynamics depend on both light and temperature. We used the BcLOV4 photoreceptor to stimulate Ras and phosphatidyl inositol-3-kinase signaling in mammalian cells, allowing activation over a large dynamic range with low basal levels. Surprisingly, we found that BcLOV4 membrane translocation dynamics could be tuned by both light and temperature such that membrane localization spontaneously decayed at elevated temperatures despite constant illumination. Quantitative modeling predicted BcLOV4 activation dynamics across a range of light and temperature inputs and thus provides an experimental roadmap for BcLOV4-based probes. BcLOV4 drove strong and stable signal activation in both zebrafish and fly cells, and thermal inactivation provided a means to multiplex distinct blue-light sensitive tools in individual mammalian cells. BcLOV4 is thus a versatile photosensor with unique light and temperature sensitivity that enables straightforward generation of broadly applicable optogenetic tools.

Progressive enhancement of kinetic proofreading in T cell antigen discrimination from receptor activation to DAG generation.

blue LOVTRAP Jurkat Signaling cascade control Extracellular optogenetics
bioRxiv, 13 Nov 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.11.10.468056 Link to full text
Abstract: T cells use kinetic proofreading to discriminate antigens by converting small changes in antigen binding lifetime into large differences in cell activation, but where in the signaling cascade this computation is performed is unknown. Previously, we developed a light-gated immune receptor to probe the role of ligand kinetics in T cell antigen signaling. We found significant kinetic proofreading at the level of the signaling lipid diacylglycerol (DAG) but lacked the ability to determine where the multiple signaling steps required for kinetic discrimination originate in the upstream signaling cascade (Tischer and Weiner, 2019). Here we uncover where kinetic proofreading is executed by adapting our optogenetic system for robust activation of early signaling events. We find the strength of kinetic proofreading progressively increases from Zap70 recruitment to LAT clustering to downstream DAG generation. These data suggest a distributed kinetic proofreading mechanism, with proofreading steps both at the receptor and at downstream signaling events. Leveraging the ability of our system to rapidly disengage ligand binding, we measure slower reset rates for downstream signaling events. Our observations of distributed kinetic proofreading and slowed resetting of downstream steps suggest a basis of cooperativity between multiple active receptors with implications in tissue homeostasis, autoimmunity, and immunotherapy off-target effects.

Optogenetic dissection of the roles of actomyosin in the mechanics underlying tissue fluidity.

blue CRY2/CIB1 D. melanogaster in vivo Signaling cascade control Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
bioRxiv, 8 Nov 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.11.07.467642 Link to full text
Abstract: Rapid epithelial tissue flows are essential to building and shaping developing embryos. However, it is not well understood how the mechanical properties of tissues and the forces driving them to flow are jointly regulated to accommodate rapid tissue remodeling. To dissect the roles of actomyosin in the mechanics of epithelial tissue flows, here we use two optogenetic tools, optoGEF and optoGAP, to manipulate Rho/Rho-kinase signaling and actomyosin contractility in the germband epithelium, which flows via convergent extension during Drosophila body axis elongation. The ability to perturb actomyosin across the tissue allows us to analyze the effects of actomyosin on cell rearrangements, tissue tensions, and tissue mechanical properties. We find that either optogenetic activation or deactivation of Rho1 signaling and actomyosin contractility at the apical surface of the germband disrupts cell rearrangements and tissue-level flows. By probing mechanical tensions in the tissue using laser ablation and predicting tissue mechanical properties from cell packings, we find that actomyosin influences both the anisotropic forces driving tissue flow and the mechanical properties of the tissue resisting flow, leading to complex relationships between actomyosin activity and tissue-level flow. Moreover, our results indicate that changes in the distribution of medial and junctional myosin in the different perturbations alter tissue tension and cell packings in distinct ways, revealing how junctional and medial myosin have differential roles in promoting and orienting cell rearrangements to tune tissue flows in developing embryos.

Nano-optogenetic engineering of CAR T cells for precision immunotherapy with enhanced safety.

blue CRY2/CIB1 iLID human T cells Jurkat mouse T cells Signaling cascade control
Nat Nanotechnol, 25 Oct 2021 DOI: 10.1038/s41565-021-00982-5 Link to full text
Abstract: Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell-based immunotherapy, approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, has shown curative potential in patients with haematological malignancies. However, owing to the lack of control over the location and duration of the anti-tumour immune response, CAR T cell therapy still faces safety challenges arising from cytokine release syndrome and on-target, off-tumour toxicity. Herein, we present the design of light-switchable CAR (designated LiCAR) T cells that allow real-time phototunable activation of therapeutic T cells to precisely induce tumour cell killing. When coupled with imaging-guided, surgically removable upconversion nanoplates that have enhanced near-infrared-to-blue upconversion luminescence as miniature deep-tissue photon transducers, LiCAR T cells enable both spatial and temporal control over T cell-mediated anti-tumour therapeutic activity in vivo with greatly mitigated side effects. Our nano-optogenetic immunomodulation platform not only provides a unique approach to interrogate CAR-mediated anti-tumour immunity, but also sets the stage for developing precision medicine to deliver personalized anticancer therapy.

Optogenetic control of NOTCH1 signalling.

blue LOVTRAP HEK293T MCF7 MDA-MB-468 Signaling cascade control
bioRxiv, 28 Sep 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.09.27.462029 Link to full text
Abstract: The Notch signalling pathway is a crucial regulator of cell differentiation as well as tissue organisation. Dysregulation of Notch signalling has been linked to the pathogenesis of different diseases. Notch plays a key role in breast cancer progression by controlling the interaction between the tumour cells and the microenvironment as well as by increasing cell motility and invasion. NOTCH1 is a mechanosensitive receptor, where mechanical force is required to activate the proteolytic cleavage and release of the Notch intracellular domain (NICD). Here, we circumvent this step by regulating Notch activity by light. To achieve this, we have engineered a membrane-bound optogenetic NOTCH1 receptor (optoNotch) to control the activation of NOTCH1 intracellular domain (N1ICD) and its downstream transcriptional activities. Using optoNotch we confirm that NOTCH1 activation increases cell proliferation in MCF7 and MDA-MB-468 breast cancer cells in 2D and spheroid 3D cultures. OptoNotch allows fine-tuning ligand-independent regulation of N1ICD to understand the spatiotemporal complexity of Notch signalling.

Activation of endoplasmic reticulum stress via clustering of inner nuclear membrane proteins.

blue CRY2olig HEK293FT U-2 OS Signaling cascade control
bioRxiv, 14 Sep 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.09.14.460295 Link to full text
Abstract: One of the major cellular mechanisms to ensure protein homeostasis is the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response. This pathway is typically triggered by accumulation of misfolded proteins in the ER lumen. Here we describe activation of ER stress via protein aggregation in the cell nucleus. We find in the premature aging disease Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS) activation of ER stress due to the aggregation of the diseases-causing progerin protein at the nuclear envelope. The presence of nucleoplasmic protein aggregates is sensed and signaled to the ER lumen via immobilization and clustering of theinner nuclear membrane protein SUN2, leading to activation of the Unfolded Protein Response (UPR). These results identify a nuclear trigger of ER stress and they provide insight into the molecular disease mechanisms of HGPS.

Far-red light-activated human islet-like designer cells enable sustained fine-tuned secretion of insulin for glucose control.

red BphS hMSCs Signaling cascade control Transgene expression
Mol Ther, 14 Sep 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.ymthe.2021.09.004 Link to full text
Abstract: Diabetes affects almost half a billion people, and all individuals with type 1 diabetes (T1D) and a large portion of individuals with type 2 diabetes rely on self-administration of the peptide hormone insulin to achieve glucose control. However, this treatment modality has cumbersome storage and equipment requirements and is susceptible to fatal user error. Here, reasoning that a cell-based therapy could be coupled to an external induction circuit for blood glucose control, as a proof of concept we developed far-red light (FRL)-activated human islet-like designer (FAID) cells and demonstrated how FAID cell implants achieved safe and sustained glucose control in diabetic model mice. Specifically, by introducing a FRL-triggered optogenetic device into human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs), which we encapsulated in poly-(l-lysine)-alginate and implanted subcutaneously under the dorsum of T1D model mice, we achieved FRL illumination-inducible secretion of insulin that yielded improvements in glucose tolerance and sustained blood glucose control over traditional insulin glargine treatment. Moreover, the FAID cell implants attenuated both oxidative stress and development of multiple diabetes-related complications in kidneys. This optogenetics-controlled "living cell factory" platform could be harnessed to develop multiple synthetic designer therapeutic cells to achieve long-term yet precisely controllable drug delivery.

NIR light-responsive bacteria with live bio-glue coatings for precise colonization in the gut.

blue YtvA E. coli Signaling cascade control Transgene expression
Cell Rep, 14 Sep 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109690 Link to full text
Abstract: Recombinant bacterial colonization plays an indispensable role in disease prevention, alleviation, and treatment. Successful application mainly depends on whether bacteria can efficiently spatiotemporally colonize the host gut. However, a primary limitation of existing methods is the lack of precise spatiotemporal regulation, resulting in uncontrolled methods that are less effective. Herein, we design upconversion microgels (UCMs) to convert near-infrared light (NIR) into blue light to activate recombinant light-responsive bacteria (Lresb) in vivo, where autocrine "functional cellular glues" made of adhesive proteins assist Lresb inefficiently colonizing the gut. The programmable engineering platform is further developed for the controlled and effective colonization of Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 (EcN) in the gut. The colonizing bacteria effectively alleviate DSS-induced colitis in mice. We anticipate that this approach could facilitate the clinical application of engineered microbial therapeutics to accurately and effectively regulate host health.

Wnt signaling rescues amyloid beta induced stem cell loss.

blue CRY2/CRY2 D. melanogaster in vivo Signaling cascade control Developmental processes
bioRxiv, 6 Sep 2021 DOI: 10.1101/2021.09.06.459094 Link to full text
Abstract: Previously, we established an optogenetic model to induce Amyloid-β intracellular oligomerization to model distinct disease etiologies (Lim et al. 2020). Here we examine the effect of Wnt signaling on Amyloid in this model. We observe that Wnt activation rescues the detrimental effects of Amyloid expression and oligomerization. We analyze the gene expression changes downstream of Wnt that contribute to this rescue and find changes in aging related genes, protein misfolding, metabolism and inflammation. We propose that Wnt expression reduces inflammation through repression of Toll activating factors and confirm that chronic Toll activation reduces lifespan. We propose that the protective effect observed for Lithium treatment functions at least in part through Wnt activation and inhibition of inflammation.

Revisiting the Role of TGFβ Receptor Internalization for Smad Signaling: It is Not Required in Optogenetic TGFβ Signaling Systems.

blue CRY2/CIB1 HeLa Signaling cascade control
Adv Biol (Weinh), 31 Aug 2021 DOI: 10.1002/adbi.202101008 Link to full text
Abstract: Endocytosis is an important process by which many signaling receptors reach their intracellular effectors. Accumulating evidence suggests that internalized receptors play critical roles in triggering cellular signaling, including transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) signaling. Despite intensive studies on the TGFβ pathway over the last decades, the necessity of TGFβ receptor endocytosis for downstream TGFβ signaling responses is a subject of debate. In this study, mathematical modeling and synthetic biology approaches are combined to re-evaluate whether TGFβ receptor internalization is indispensable for inducing Smad signaling. It is found that optogenetic systems with plasma membrane-tethered TGFβ receptors can induce fast and sustained Smad2 activation upon light stimulations. Modeling analysis suggests that endocytosis is precluded for the membrane-anchored optogenetic TGFβ receptors. Therefore, this study provides new evidence to support that TGFβ receptor internalization is not required for Smad2 activation.

Light-Inducible Spatio-Temporal Control of TLR4 and NF-κB-Gluc Reporter in Human Pancreatic Cell Line.

blue VfAU1-LOV 293Ta HeLa PANC-1 Signaling cascade control
Int J Mol Sci, 26 Aug 2021 DOI: 10.3390/ijms22179232 Link to full text
Abstract: Augmented Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) expression was found in nearly 70% of patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma, which is correlated with increased tumorigenesis and progression. In this study, we engineered a new light-oxygen-voltage-sensing (LOV) domain-based optogenetic cell line (opto-TLR4 PANC-1) that enables time-resolved activation of the NF-κB and extracellular-signal regulated kinases (ERK)1/2 signalling pathway upon blue light-sensitive homodimerisation of the TLR4-LOV fusion protein. Continuous stimulation with light indicated strong p65 and ERK1/2 phosphorylation even after 24 h, whereas brief light exposure peaked at 8 h and reached the ground level 24 h post-illumination. The cell line further allows a voltage-dependent TLR4 activation, which can be continuously monitored, turned on by light or off in the dark. Using this cell line, we performed different phenotypic cell-based assays with 2D and 3D cultures, with the aim of controlling cellular activity with spatial and temporal precision. Light exposure enhanced cell attachment, the formation and extension of invadopodia, and cell migration in 3D spheroid cultures, but no significant changes in proliferation or viability could be detected. We conclude that the opto-TLR4 PANC-1 cell line is an ideal tool for investigating the underlying molecular mechanisms of TLR4, thereby providing strategies for new therapeutic options.
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